Tonight's final preseason game at Meadowlands Stadium against the New England Patriots is a largely meaningless affair. There are still, however, a few things I will be looking for as I watch the game.
If you have read my other 'what to watch for' lists before previous exhibition games you will likely see some familiar items. Let's go through the list.
- Defensive Improvement: There were lots of reasons given for why the Giants defense did not play well in the first half Saturday against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. They weren't ready for the no-huddle, they played man-to-man to test the kids at corner (who failed, miserably), they didn't play their techniques as well in the game as they have been in practice. Whatever. The front-line defenders will likely only play a series or two, and I want to be impressed. Three-and-outs, a turnover. I will be discouraged if I see the Patriots moving the ball at will.
- Can somebody return a kick, please?: Tim Brown. Andre Brown. Victor Cruz. Mario Manningham. D.J. Ware. Shawn Andrews. Linval Joseph. Shoot, Tom Coughlin used to be a running back and he still has some wheels. Maybe he should suit up and give it a try. Somebody. Anybody. Run back a kickoff and get out past the 25-yard line. Oh, and catch the ball and hold onto it when returning punts. After that I really don't care.
- What will Rhett do?: Will Rhett Bomar play well and make the Giants stop worrying about whether he should be Eli Manning's backup? Or, will he play like an inexperienced young kid and make Jerry Reese scurry to the phone and start calling agents for available backup QBs?
- The offensive line: I am very curious to see how the Giants line up for their first offensive series or two. The starting group has not, as of this writing, been publically clarified. I know Shaun O'Hara won't play against the Patriots, but I'm anxious to see what decisions have been made with that group.
- The linebackers: We have been here before, but I am primarily curious about the Keith Bulluck-Clint Sintim-Jonathan Goff triumvirate. There are two spots and three players, and this is another spot where I'm still not completely sure how it plays out. My guess is this will be an ongoing thing based on who is playing well and who is healthy.